Wall Street Journal – The Rising Risk of a Contaminated Blood Supply

U.S.A. September 27, 2015

The U.S. blood supply is facing new safety threats, exposing patients to potentially greater risk of disease from transfusions.

Over the past few years, new and re-emerging pathogens including viruses, parasites and bacteria have been showing up in donated blood, including the three primary components used in transfusions—red blood cells, platelets and plasma.

During recent epidemics of the mosquito-borne illnesses dengue fever and Chikungunya in the Caribbean, high rates of the viruses were found in donated blood. Babesiosis, a malaria-like illness transmitted by ticks and endemic in several U.S. states, has been spread by blood transfusion in more than 200 known cases and is now considered among the most serious infectious risks from donated blood. Although investigational tests for babesiosis are being used and assays for Chikungunya and dengue are in development, no approved tests are available to screen for the diseases in blood donors.